A publication of
Bureau of Land Management in California

Issue 110 - 5/28/2003

This week in News.bytes:

- Imperial Sand Dunes: plan to reopen section
- Wildfire season: Bracing for a bad one
- Wildlife Trivia Question of the Week: Mammalian
- Photo Album: "Cadastral Survey"
- Land Use Planning:
   - West Mojave route planning: reaction
   - Fort Ord: input needed
- Wild horse and burro adoptions
- Headlines and Highlights, including:
   - Bizz Johnson trail shuttle
   - Horseshoe Ranch proposal protests
   - Hearst may split land with public
   - Government report on Adventure Pass
   - Deaths mar release to wild of bighorn sheep
- Selected Upcoming Events, including:
   - Monument Advisory Committee meeting
- Oil and Gas Lease Sale


"BLM planning to reopen dunes" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 05/24/2003)
Weekend crowd at the Imperial Sand DunesBLM announces plans to reopen a section of Imperial Sand Dunes to off-road vehicles. Almost 50,000 acres were closed November 2000 to protect Peirson's milk-vetch plant, a threatened species unique to the dunes. Re-opening could come as soon as peak off-road season in the dunes, usually early November.

"Proposed Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area Management Plan Released" (BLM California news release, 05/23/2003)
The BLM has released the proposed final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and Recreation Area Management Plan (RAMP) for the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area (ISDRA) Management Plan and proposed amendment to the California Desert Conservation Plan 1980. The Imperial Sand Dunes is located in southeastern Imperial County.

"Imperial Dunes closure could be lifted soon" (Yuma Sun, 05/24/2003)
"A decision to re-open those areas could come by the later part of this year, hopefully before October, which is when the busy season for the dunes begins," said BLM spokesperson...."Right now it's important to realize those acres are still closed, until a final decision has been issued."

"Weighing impact of dunes management plan" (Imperial Valley Press, 05/23/2003)
(Note: this story appeared to be temporarily unavailable at News.bytes deadline time.)


"Large coverage area makes response times longer in Hesperia Fire District" (Hesperia Star, 05/27/2003)
BLM and Hesperia firefighters shared fighting one of the first wildfires of the season recently - but raised concerns over smaller rural fire departments as result of state budget cutting. "Having to respond to fires all over a geographically large city as well as nearby unincorporated areas puts an additional strain on the cash-strapped Hesperia Fire District."

"Griswold Pass burns while CDF station closed; South County fire season kicks while state budget cutbacks limit rural fire protection" (The Pinnacle, 05/21/2003)
California budget crisis affects public lands: "While a 1,500-acre wildfire burned [private and some BLM-managed lands] ... Sunday, the nearby Antelope CDF station remained closed 'for the winter' due to a lack of state funding....It took more than an hour and a half for the first help to arrive because firefighters had to be called in from the CDF stations near the Fresno County border, King City and Los Banos."

"Spring's grass to fuel summer's fires" (Contra Costa Times, 05/25/2003)
BLM firefighters battle a wild blaze"In woodlands from the San Bernardino Mountains in Southern California to the high desert of Santa Fe, N.M., hundreds of thousands of acres of ponderosa and pinyon pine, the most prevalent trees of the arid West, are dead or dying, weakened first by a lack of moisture and then by burrowing insects....Computer modeling...predicts that fire will spread at twice the normal rate among the weakened trees." Also: "Dead timber in Southern California and an increase in lightning in Northern California will likely contribute to an above average season there."

"A Losing Battle" (High Country News, 05/26/2003)
"...[W]ildfires are becoming more risky all the time, as they increasingly come up against the West's explosive population growth, especially in the 'wildland-urban interface,' or Red Zone - neighborhoods that edge against wild land. Southern California brushfires in 1991, 1993 and 1996 destroyed a total of more than 3,100 homes and apartments." Subtitled: "We're spending billions to fight 'catastrophic' forest fires. But the big blowups will continue, whether we like it or not. For the forest, this may be good news." Links to related articles.

"Firespeak catastrophe" (High Country News, 05/26/2003)
"We need to revise or toss out some of our fire vocabulary, especially 'wildland-urban interface,' 'pre-settlement condition' and Smokey's slogan 'only you'."

Wildlife Trivia Question Mark of the WeekWILDLIFE TRIVIA QUESTION OF THE WEEK: "What era is known as "The Age of Mammals"?
(a) Precambrian
(b) Paleozoic
(c) Mesozoic
(d) Cenozoic
(See answer near the end of this issue of News.bytes)

PHOTO ALBUM - "Cadastral Survey"
The BLM is responsible for the surveys of all federally-managed lands within California. Cadastral surveying remains the oldest BLM program and is the process of defining land ownership descriptions for title transfer - by establishing and monumenting on the ground their record locations. A legal requirement since 1785, these surveys form the framework for all land title (public and private) for the United States.

graphic: Geographic Services Related: "Geographic Services" (BLM California Web pages)
This BLM branch recently changed its name from "Cadastral Survey," but it still surveys public lands - with the help of new and updated tools.

Related: "Cadastral Multimedia" (BLM National Web site)
"Graphically intensive" historical and instructive information, using Shockwave files, Quicktime, Powerpoint, and JavaScript applications.
Links include navigation to much other information on the national "Cadastral Survey" Website.


"Morgan takes aim at BLM" (Ridgecrest Daily Independent, 05/27/2003)
"Ridgecrest City Councilman ... a participant in the planning process for the Western Mojave Desert Off-road Vehicle Designation Project, sent a scathing response to the [BLM] regarding its route designation process....[he] pointed out errors in the plan, such as 'missing routes, and routes not even designated by BLM's documents'." 'The impending loss of routes and areas for recreation within the desert from this plan and others is huge. No one is talking about the cumulative effects of what is occurring,' he told the council.

"Public Input is Critical to Planning Efforts for Fort Ord Public Lands" (BLM California news release, 05/23/2003)
Members of the public are invited to attend workshops regarding Fort Ord public lands located in Monterey County, CA. Three public workshops are scheduled for the first week of June 2003. Interested parties are encouraged to come learn about the project and, most importantly, provide input and comments.

Related: "Home base: Would-be buyers march up in droves for first homes at Fort Ord site" (San Francisco Chronicle, 05/25/2003)
While more than 7,000 acres of former Fort Ord were turned over to BLM management "for public uses such as hiking and horseback riding .... Another 6,000 acres were turned over to the cities of Marina, Seaside and Del Rey Oaks and to Monterey County for residential, commercial and educational projects." At prices from $569,000 to $734,000, "[m]ore than 1,500 qualified buyers - most from Monterey County - tossed their names into the lottery for the first 100 homes."

"Horseshoe proposal draws protest" (Siskiyou Daily News, 05/26/2003)
Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors send formal letter of protest of management plan amendment for Horseshoe Ranch Wildlife Area, on the California-Oregon border. Plan must be updated every decade. Public attending meetings expressed opposition to any expansion. Plan calls for boundaries close to original 1977 purchase, but supervisors claim loopholes allow expansion.


Don't try this at home...Poster and link to larger version, wild horse and burro adoption in Folsom"Wild horses and burros up for adoption in Folsom" (BLM California news release, 05/27/2003)
They once grazed on the wide-open ranges of the West, but now, a more domestic life awaits a group of wild horses and burros when the U.S. Bureau of Land Managements offers them for public adoption in Folsom.

"Don't try this at home..." (BLM California Web page)
A poster with information on the upcoming wild horse and burro adoption event in Folsom.

Kiger Mustangs in Sacramento this weekend
This weekend (May 30 - June 1) the Western States Horse Exposition will feature Arabians and Wild Horses (Kiger Mustangs) during its Saturday Evening Showcase at California Expo in Sacramento. Horse Illustrated says it’s the largest horse exposition in the country. Public interest and support for these two breeds is strong in the equine world. The evening event in the Sundowner Area at California Expo is expected to last two hours with more than a dozen stand-alone acts and a final Parade of Breeds.
Cal Expo Web site:

"Upcoming Expo and Show in Reno Will Feature BLM-Sponsored Adoption of Wild Horses and Burros" (BLM National news release, 05/23/2003)
A wild horse and burro expo and show, scheduled for July in Reno, Nevada, will feature competitive oral bidding for about 30 wild horses. Bidding at the adoption, which will include wild burros from California, will be open to individuals qualified to adopt and will start at $125 for each animal.


"Bizz Johnson trail shuttle service begins" (BLM California news release, 05/23/2003)
Monthly weekend bus shuttle service for the Bizz Johnson National Recreation Trail begins for the summer season Saturday, June 7.  The service provides ways for hikers, joggers and mountain bikers to enjoy the beauty and serenity of the Susan River Canyon and surrounding forest without arranging vehicle shuttles or back-tracking.

"Deaths mar release of bighorn sheep; Just 1 of 5 freed animals still alive; timing criticized" (Palm Springs Desert Sun, 05/26/2003)
"In August, wildlife officials released five endangered Peninsular bighorn sheep ... into the San Jacinto Mountains near Palm Springs [in area of BLM-managed national monument]. The sheep were expected to join a nearby herd that had dwindled to 28 rams and just four ewes." Instead, two ate nonnative poisonous oleander, another died of dehydration and its lamb also died. Critic says spring release would have given better chance for survival.

"Hearst may split land with public" (San Luis Obispo Tribune, 05/24/2003)
"The public could wind up owning a small chunk of the scenic coastal Hearst Ranch. The Tribune has learned that the conservation package being developed by the Hearst Corp. and American Land Conservancy includes selling off to public agencies more than 60 percent of the ranch's coastal strip, 1,840 acres that lie west of Highway 1....Hearst and his conservation partners aren't saying which public agencies or private non-profit conservation groups could take ownership of those coastal stretches. But some agencies...[including BLM] have been stakeholders in the discussions."

Related: "Piedras Blancas Light Station" (BLM California Web site)
Some of the lands mentioned in the story above surround Piedras Blancas Light Station. The station was turned over to BLM management in 2001, after the U.S. Coast Guard replaced old mechanisms with technology. The BLM is initiating restoration and stabilization projects.

"Forest proposal would reduce species protection" (Associated Press, in Redding Record-Searchlight, 05/24/2003)
"Federal forest managers would no longer have to survey for dozens of sensitive plant and animal species before logging under proposed changes to the Northwest Forest Plan announced Friday. The changes, prompted by a timber industry lawsuit, would increase logging on federal land in parts of the Northwest by about 60 percent per year and save the government about $18 million annually, Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management officials said."

"Government report concludes Adventure Pass funds well spent" (Pasadena Star News, 05/26/2003)
Adventure Pass is "part of a larger national effort called the Fee Demonstration Program in which several federal agencies, including the Forest Service, the [BLM] and the Fish and Wildlife Service, were allowed to charge fees to bring in more money to bolster their declining budgets." Government Accounting Office report "focused on the Forest Service because its fees have been the most controversial" and concluded Forest Service "does not keep accurate records of what it costs to administer the fee program that includes the Adventure Pass, though the money appears to be well spent.",1413,206~22097~1416875,00.html

Wildlife Trivia Question Mark of the Week ANSWER TO WILDLIFE TRIVIA QUESTION OF THE WEEK: "What era is known as 'The Age of Mammals?'"
(d) Cenozoic (1.6 to 65 million years ago)
Bighorn sheep in the Santa Rosa San Jacinto Mountains National Monument... and speaking of mammals, one mammal now in the news (see story above) is the endangered Peninsular bighorn sheep - called that, because they exist only in the Peninsular ranges of the San Jacinto Mountains to central Baja California Mexico. These are hot, dry, rocky areas with few plants - and very steep slopes. Learn more about these animals in the BLM California Wildlife Database.
(Note: the Wildlife Database is hosted on the Department of Interior's secure Web server - see note under "Selected Upcoming Events" below)


06/03/2003 - Fort Ord planning workshop

06/04/2003 - Oil and Gas Lease Sale

06/04/2003 - Fort Ord planning workshop

06/07/2003 - Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument Advisory Committee meeting
Palm Desert

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News.bytes published by
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